- Ann T. Keene
Cornell, Joseph (24 December 1903–29 December 1972), artist and designer, was born Joseph I. Cornell, Jr., in South Nyack, New York, the son of Joseph I. Cornell, a traveling salesman of woolen goods, and Helen Ten Broeck Storms Cornell. Although Joseph Jr. was the sixth male in his father's family to bear the name, he was never told what his middle initial stood for, and he dropped both the I. and the Jr. as an adult. Joseph Sr. had come from a family of modest means; his wife's family, whose ancestors included Dutch families of colonial New York and New Jersey, was wealthy and socially prominent. Joseph Sr.'s income, combined with his wife's modest inheritance, allowed them to establish a comfortable upper-middle-class household for their family, which also included three younger children. High culture was not emphasized, however; instead of visiting museums and attending the opera and symphony, the Cornells often took their children to New York City, just across the river from their home, to attend vaudeville shows, amusement parks, and penny arcades....